Why Do Patients with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) Fail Field Sobriety Tests (FBTs)?

Courtesy of Godoy Medical Forensics


What is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) is a rare congenital connective tissue disorder that affects the body’s ability to produce collagen. Collagen occurs in many places throughout the body. Over 90% of the collagen in the human body is found in skin, tendons, ligaments, bone, and blood vessels. Therefore, people who have EDS have:

  • Thin translucent skin (transparent where veins are very visible).
  • Joint pain and frequent joint dislocations.
  • Early onset of osteoarthritis.
  • Increased chance of fractures.
  • Increased chance of bruising.

Collagen also occurs in 80% of the structures in the eye. Therefore, common eye complications of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome include:

  • Blurred vision that comes and goes.
  • Double vision out of one eye or with both eyes open.
  • Light sensitivity (photophobia).
  • Complete or almost complete, loss of vision in one eye that lasts minutes.
  • Tunnel vision.
  • Floaters.
  • Migraine auras.
  • Flashes of light or a curtain over their vision.

More on ocular complications can be found here.

There is no cure for EDS, therefore patients alter their lifestyle to manage symptoms and prevent further complications.

What does this have to do with criminal cases?

Many of the signs and symptoms of EDS can be mistaken for drug or alcohol intoxication. EDS patients may have difficulty completing the Field Sobriety Tests. If a person is arrested for a DUI, it is important to have a medical expert review the records and police reports to determine what may be due to EDS and what is from intoxication.